12 SES 08 A, On Systemic Research Reviews and the Politics of Knowledge in Education
Contemporary criticisms of educational research and policy suggest a gap between the knowledge and research needs of policy makers and practitioners and researchers. The criticism has been twofold: educational research fails the policy making and educational practice by the non-cumulative nature of its findings, and research is too much serving the interests of researchers and too little serves the interests of a wider community.
Academics have primarily taken two different strands – either they concern policy issues and their resolutions as none of their business or they argue that the tasks of academics are to seek common agreements. Today, when issues like effectiveness of educational policy and practice, cumulative evidence of ‘what works’ and what does not and what constitutes the ‘working’ and the ‘not working’, is addressed research synthesis seems to provide a valuable part in how to bridge the gap between research and community (in terms of policy making and professionals).
Systematic reviews are built on the assumption that single observations are limited in their generalizability and by doing systematic reviews a larger explanatory puzzle can be visualized. There is currently much interest in research synthesis and systematic reviews of available evidence. The practice of conducting systematic reviews has spread rapidly within both non-governmental and governmental organizations. Today researchers and administrators are involved in conducting them. This symposium is trying to problematize the discourses and analyze what different practices of systematic reviews lead to in terms of knowledge production and dissemination of research results.
For example, studies in the history of science have shown how research instruments are theoretically informed and how styles of reason are including the ways research problematics are formulated and what is regarded as evidence is captured in this style of reason. This is not to claim that anything goes in terms of formulating research problems and outcomes. Rather it is to provide self-reflectivity to systematic reviews. The self-reflectivity is that research outcomes in terms of data embody a self-referential and self-authoritizing style of reasoning, what Kuhn (1970) in his important analysis of science called ‘paradigms’. To neglect the principles that order and classify this knowledge production, shaping and fashioning the relation of the problems studied, the data that gives intelligibility to the problems, and solutions offered as change would be a serious scientific mistake. It would limit the possibilities of innovation and science in responding adequately to the social and educational issues that systemic reviews are to illuminate.
An important ambition for systematic research reviews is to provide a basis for intervention or clinical decision-making, as is shown in the field of medicine and health (for a review, see Proitz, 2015). Here, it is vital to identify what is a good knowledge basis, often termed as “best evidence”. Here we note presumptions concerning hierarchies of evidence, for instance that randomized experiments is giving better evidence than e.g. ethnographic studies. Petticrew & Roberts (2006) present examples of such hierarchy of evidence. They state that such fixed hierarchy is problematic and are promoting typologies for identifying strengths and weaknesses of different approaches in relation to the problem or research question to be dealt with. We share this position.
The papers presented are dealing with different aspects of systematic research reviews – reviews on procedures for doing systematic research reviews, results and reflections from a specific research review, and a critical analysis of different ways to talk and do such reviews in European and international contexts.
Hacking, I. (1992) “Style” for historians and philosophers. Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science. 23(1): pp.1-20. Kuhn, T. S. (1970). The structure of scientiﬁc revolutions. Chicago/London. Petticrew, M., & Roberts, H. (2008). Systematic reviews in the social sciences: A practical guide. John Wiley & Sons. Prøitz, T. (2015) Metoder for systematiske kunnskapsoversikter – relevant, tilgjengelig og praktisk anvendbar? Vetenskapsrådets publikationsserie. von Wright, G. H. (1983): Practical Reason. Blackwell. von Wright, G. H. (2004). Explanation and understanding. Cornell University Press.
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.